Aug 25 2015 Why do cross-sector practitioners need fellowship?
This is the second in a two-part series on the Presidio Cross Sector Leadership Fellows program, now accepting applications for its 2016 cohort. You can find the first post here.
Over a decade ago, my boss at the Chamber of Commerce said, “I’d like you to take the lead on this new cross-sector collaboration we’re building on health.” At the time, health care costs for employers were rising annually at a significant rate, and there was a growing awareness of how the population’s health impacted productivity. At that point, I didn’t know the difference between Medicaid and Medicare. I also didn’t know what it meant to build and staff a cross-sector collaboration.
To learn about health, there were thousands of places to look for support – professors, policymakers, business executives, health professionals, and philanthropists, as well as advocacy efforts, data sets, research centers, and journals. To learn how to build and support a cross-sector collaboration that could have impact, there was very little to be found.
If we know the problems are bigger than what we as individuals or organizations can tackle on our own, what does it take to be able to work together to solve them?
Which meant I had to learn a lot about cross-sector collaboration through trial and error. Some of the work led to measurable impact – a region-wide wellness initiative that supported over 10,000 employees getting active. But because there wasn’t much to learn from, and I didn’t know of some of the tools and skills I could be using, much of the work went nowhere.
My experience raised a question for me — the question I’ve spent the last 10 years (and probably will spend the rest of my life) learning about. If we know the problems are bigger than what we as individuals or organizations can tackle on our own, what does it take to be able to work together to solve them?
Cross-sector collaboration isn’t new. For decades people have been building alliances of individuals working within and across sectors that together have a role in solving a problem and achieving a shared goal.
What has changed is the urgency for such collaboration. Because, while individuals and organizations have been trying to solve our greatest challenges through siloed solutions, whether policy, market-based, or social programs, very few of these attempts have been sufficient to address the problems at the scale which they exist, and the problems seem to be getting worse.
Very few of these [siloed] attempts have been sufficient to address the problems at the scale which they exist, and the problems seem to be getting worse.
The other thing that has changed is that, even compared to 10 years ago, there are more resources for the people endeavoring on this brave and messy and necessary work. Whether its research by folks like The Intersector Project or networks like Strive, the Collective Impact Forum, and Shared Value Initiative; funders like Living Cities, Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston or the thousands of people who are part of this problem-solving network, there is a movement for cross-sector collaboration afoot. (And that’s just some of what we’re seeing in the United States.)
Ten months ago, I joined the team at the Presidio Institute, an initiative that has a different role in the cross-sector collaboration movement: to provide cross-sector leadership education programs and convene events that equip and connect champions for change across sectors to be able to solve critical social, economic, and environmental problems. The Institute is the type of resource I could have sorely used a decade ago.
The Cross Sector Leadership Fellows program is the Institute’s signature initiative designed for mid- and late-career professionals working across the nation in business, non-profits, philanthropy, academia, and government. Fellows bring a diversity of expertise and experience, a desire to learn and contribute, and a passion for solving complex problems by applying learning to projects in their communities, throughout the nation, and across the world.
The 2015 Fellows are an exceptional group of individuals, and last month, when we were together in Washington D.C. for the second of the program’s three five-day, in-person learning experiences, they continued to coalesce into an extraordinary support and problem-solving network for one another. During the week, Fellows provided group coaching to support one another in navigating individual challenges; they drew profound connections between President Lincoln’s leadership style and times and their own challenges and the problems we face today; they heard from, talked with, and questioned how leaders from across the political spectrum (and sectors) are able to put aside the profound differences they have in other areas to advance the work of criminal justice reform. They raised big questions about individual identity and values in cross-sector collaboration, shared candidly about their sectors, made commitments to help one another, and vowed to be bolder.
They raised big questions about individual identity and values in cross-sector collaboration, shared candidly about their sectors, made commitments to help one another, and vowed to be bolder.
I left the week feeling that the Cross Sector Leadership Fellows program is a unique experience for personal development, building new skills, learning, and expanding your problem-solving network across sectors and the country. I share this with you because the Presidio Institute is seeking others to be part of this network as we’re recruiting for 2016 Fellows right now. So, if you are mid-career professional who is passionate about solving some of the toughest challenges we face today, I invite you to apply for the Fellowship.
The earlybird deadline (which qualifies you for a 10 percent program fee discount if you are accepted) is September 7, 2015, at 11:59 p.m. PST. The final application deadline is September 27, 2015, at 11:59 p.m. PST.
Apply online here: http://institute.presidio.gov/Involvement/Pages/How-to-Apply.aspx.
Or to learn more about the program and hear directly from a fellow who’s been through it, please register for one of the following upcoming Info Webinars by RSVPing to Anna Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org:
- September 1 at 3 p.m. EST / 12 p.m. PST featuring Jim Murray, Director, John Gardner Postgraduate Public Service Program, Stanford University and 2014 Fellow
- September 21 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST with Tulaine Montgomery, Partner, New Profit and 2015 Fellow
As the Manager of Leadership Education at the Presidio Institute, Alison Gold is responsible for developing the strategies and programs focused on providing transformational experiences that inspire, encourage, and empower leaders to make measurable, positive impact in their communities through cross-sector collaboration.